A couple of weeks ago we spent a long weekend at Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast. I found it tacky and noisy. After I returned from my trip, my Australian boss said it reminds him of the really touristy areas of Florida. Personally, I think it’s worse.
I might have a better impression of Surfer’s Paradise if we had stayed in a nicer place. Our hotel was a dump. Wouldn't you know this is the first trip that I booked through a travel agent and pre-paid for. If we hadn’t prepaid for the room, I would have checked out and moved further up the coast. The unit was a “serviced” apartment, but there was no “service” at all. The place was in desperate need of a renovation to pull it out of the 70’s and the amenities were horrible. The room came with two bath towels and a bath mat. I asked for a third towel for SPie as well as hand towels and washcloths. They said there would be a charge for a third bath towel and if I wanted hand towels and washcloths I should have brought them from home. (Nice customer service!) We were getting low on toilet paper, so I asked the desk if we could get another roll. They wouldn’t give it to me; however if I wanted to purchase more, it would be $1.15/roll! The receptionist kept telling me “that’s how all serviced apartments work”. We stayed at serviced apartments in Cairns and in New Zealand and never had any problems. We had all the towels and free toilet paper that we needed!
There are a lot of theme parks in the Gold Coast. We went to Dreamworld because it has Wiggles World and a Nick Central for SPie’s age group. She went on most of the age appropriate rides, but we skipped a few because the lines were so long. SPie’s favorite ride was the train that goes around the park. We went on that twice. I find it amazing how much she loves anything that goes; cars, boats, trains, and especially helicopters.
Dreamworld advertises the “largest interactive tiger facility outside the United States”, so I had big expectations for Tiger Island. There are 2 tiger shows a day. We missed one show and left the other because the crowds were too big to see anything (it's a bad design for viewing). We did see the tigers, but it wasn’t as exciting as I expected. Overall, Dreamworld was ok, but for the money spent ($$$), it was disappointing.
The next day we drove to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. This was worth the trip. The zoo is huge and the animals seem to have plenty of room to move around. As you might expect, there were a lot of crocodiles and alligators. We even saw a baby croc (8 weeks old). Most of the animals were awake and active, especially the tigers. There were 2 tigers in the enclosure play-fighting with each other. They were in and out of the water, running around the enclosure, roaring, and swatting at each other. That was very cool to see. This zoo is also the first place that I've seen a Tasmanian Devil on the move (at the other zoos the devils were sleeping).
After the zoo, we drove to see the Big Pineapple. I first heard about the “big” sculptures when I read Bill Bryson’s book In a Sunburned Country. From what I’ve read, there are random large sculptures throughout Australia and the Big Pineapple is one of them. So far, the Big Pineapple is the only one we’ve seen. This link to Wikipedia has a list of the other Big Things in Australia and elsewhere.
The Zoo and the Pineapple are North of the Gold Cost in the Sunshine Coast. From the little bit that we saw, it seems like a much nicer area. If you ever visit, stay on the Sunshine Coast and make a day trip or a single overnight to Surfer’s Paradise. Unless you’re in your early 20’s, I don’t see a need to spend too much time on the Gold Coast.
8 week old crocodile:
The Big Pineapple:
P.S. Since I originally wrote this post, it's been school holidays. Apparently Surfer's Paradise is "the" destination for drunken students (which doesn't surprise me at all). The last report I saw had 128 students arrested in Surfer's Paradise.